(4207) Week of Oct. 17, 2007
process being questioned
By Stan Welch
The growing rift within the Anderson County Council continued to widen Tuesday night, with a consistent majority of four voting together on all substantive issues, while Council Chair Bob Waldrep and District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson formed an equally minority. District Six Councilman Ron Wilson was absent, celebrating his fortieth wedding anniversary.
One of the main issues surfaced early, as James Potter, a sales representative for Tyco Electronics, spoke during citizens comments, asking Council why they had not followed a formal bid procedure concerning the countys proposed purchase of an 800MHz radio system. (See related story online at www.thejournalonline.com)
Potter and several county officials essentially squared off, with the county officials strongly defending the Palmetto 800/Motorola system which they pitched to Council at a previous meeting. The Palmetto 800 system is a cooperative venture between the state and Motorola, which leaves Motorola in possession of the system across the state.
Potter questioned the countys failure to follow a formal bid procedure, as outlined in county ordinance. Councilwoman Cindy Wilson also questioned that decision. Section 2-631 of the county code requires a formal bid process for any contracts, purchases, or services in excess of $10,000.
Potters company is the second largest producer of simulcast systems and equipment. Motorola is the largest. Potter concedes that the two compete constantly for business. All Im asking for is a chance to compete. The proposal I have put together will provide a system that will meet the countys needs for the next ten to fifteen years. Buying into the Palmetto 800 system will commit the county to an expensive system that will be obsolete within two years. Under my proposal, the county will own the system.
Capt. Littleton said that was true, but not necessarily an advantage. I dont have the support system or the expertise to maintain this system. Under Palmetto 800, Motorola is responsible for maintaining the system and equipment.
Emergency services director Taylor Jones also defended the decision to buy through the state contract program. We had a consultant come in and look at this from a lot of angles. They have informed us that this is the best value for the county over the next ten years. Potter, whose company has installed systems at the Pentagon and at Fort Knox, challenged that opinion saying, How can they say that when they never studied our proposal? That doesnt make sense.
Chairman Waldrep pursued the question of the bid policy too, asking county purchasing director if he considered the state contract 800 system a legal exception to the bid procedure as outlined in county ordinance. I didnt call it an exception, Mr. Chairman. I simply said that the system has already been through the state bid process.
Councilwoman Gracie Floyd cited section 2-643 of the county ordinance concerning the use of state purchasing. I think Ms. Wilson is correct in what she says, but this section allows another choice.
Waldrep also asked Jones if they had looked at other options. Mr. Waldrep, when I spend $8.5 million on a system like this, there is no rock unturned. We had a packet of information from Tyco last week, I believe. Potter said in an earlier interview with The Journal that he had been in contact with the county since June of this year.
Waldrep was apparently unhappy with that response. Mr. Jones, you arent spending $8.5 million. The taxpayers of this county are.
After considerable discussion and a lengthy presentation during which both Potter and Littleton defended their proposals, Council voted 4-2 to give first reading approval to the purchase of the Motorola system.
Ms. Wilson said, I still believe that we must bid this out. I take issue with this Councils decision to give the authority over this decision to a county employee without requiring further action by the Council. This is too important an issue to be handled this way.
Wilsons remarks after the vote had been taken sparked a little confrontation between Waldrep and two members of council. Councilman Greer raised a point of order as Waldrep expanded on Wilsons remarks. Waldrep continued with his remarks, and Councilman McAbee loudly raised a point of order.
Waldrep, who obviously wanted to finish his remarks, said, Im going to overrule your point of order, Mr. McAbee. McAbee instantly moved to challenge the chairs decision. Greer restated his point of order, which was that the question had been voted on and closed. Well, if you refuse to permit me this leeway, then okay, said Waldrep.
In one of the oddest occurrences in recent Council history, a private citizen, Mr. Brooks Brown, who had been given five minutes on the agenda to speak about domestic terrorism and the Anderson County Taxpayers Association, announced that a newly formed group, the Citizens for a Positive Anderson, has registered the name Anderson County Taxpayers association with the S.C. Secretary of State. Mr. Crowe, you no longer own that name, and I hereby direct you to cease and desist in using it.
Brooks reference was to Charles Crowe, one of the leaders of the ACTPA, who, along with Dan Harvell and Rick Fremantle, had addressed the Council earlier in the evening concerning accusations made against the organization by Councilman Michael Thompson.
By Stan Welch
As County Council draws closer to approving the purchase/construction of the proposed 800 MHz communications system, a major player in the industry is asking questions about the Countys alleged failure to follow a competitive bid process, as county ordinance requires.
Tyco Electronics, a company located in Roswell Georgia, which did more than $12 billion in business across the world last year, has questioned the cursory response they received to a proposal they made to provide the county with the components of the emergency communications system.
In a letter to District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, dated October 9, Tycos regional sales manager, Russ Prindle stated that his companys proposal was delivered to Matthew Littleton on June 15 of this year. Prindle said that his area sales manager James Potter had worked closely with Mr. Littleton and Mr. Taylor(sic) to insure that we included the system features, capabilities, coverage, interoperability and system scalability that would be needed by the county over the next 10-15 years.
The letter went on to say that Prindle and his team were expecting to be given an opportunity to discuss the proposal with the appropriate county and emergency responder officials. We were shocked to receive word from Mr. Littleton early last week that the County had decided to move ahead with the purchase of a Motorola P25 system for approximately $8.5 million without following a formal competitive bid procurement process, which would insure that the County would receive the best possible system at the best possible price.
Potter sent an e-mail to Matthew Littleton on October 2 which questioned the lack of a bid procedure. That e-mail also raised a number of significant technical issues about the system chosen. Potter strongly suggests that the system chosen will be technically obsolete within two years. The e-mail questions whether the system considered by the county can be upgraded to Phase 2 of the P25 system. According to Potter, Phase 2 will be in service by May of 2009 and will double the voice capacity available with existing P25 systems. That Phase 2 will essentially render all Phase 1 technology obsolete, said Potter.
According to estimates, the county system may not even be completed at that time.
In an interview with The Journal, Potter, who was scheduled to attend Tuesday nights Council meeting (see story elsewhere in this issue), challenged a number of the assertions made by county officials during their recent presentation in support of the purchase.
Potter says that he addressed many of the issues raised by county officials, such as the risk of losing the radio frequencies currently assigned to the county by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) if their deadlines werent met.
At the Council meeting earlier this year when County, State and Motorola officials all appeared to pitch their choice, several statements were made by various representatives to the effect that if the assigned frequencies werent in use by a certain date, they would be pulled by the FCC and made available to agencies on a first come first served basis.
Potter claims that he assured Capt. Matthew Littleton , head of operations at Central Dispatch, that such a problem was easily handled. I told Mr. Littleton that I could set up a temporary operation in about a month that would meet all the requirements to preserve the countys frequencies. This is a common tactic used to scare agencies into making hasty decisions. It was tried by Motorola in Spalding County Georgia, where they were trying to sell the county a three site, or tower, system with 500 radios for $10,000,000. We managed to convince the county to follow a bid process, and bring in a consultant to be sure they would get what they needed, They also set up a commission to handle the study and the bidding process. We were allowed to compete in that instance, and we provided a five site system with a thousand radios. Our price? Ten million dollars.
Potter also questions the shelf life of the proposed system. The P25 system that Anderson County is considering buying from Motorola is a phase one SmartNet system. There are two major problems with it. One is that in 2009, Phase 2 will be on the market, and it will double the voice capacity of the system. Secondly, the SmartNet platform itself is being abandoned by Motorola in 2009. They will no longer offer support services for that platform. You wont even be able to get parts for it. Why would anyone want to purchase a system with a life span that will be over by the time the system is built out? It makes no sense.
Efforts to reach Capt. Littleton for comment were unsuccessful. His office reported that he was at a conference.
Another issue Potter raises is the fact that the level of contact he had with the County never rose above the central dispatch office.
Usually, with a purchase of this size, we find that counties involve their purchasing departments, their county managers, and their elected officials. I spoke with Mr. Littleton and Mr. Taylor Jones, and that was as far up the ladder as I went. I came over to do a preliminary presentation and unfortunately a man drowned in Lake Jocassee that day. Things were a little hectic at the 911 center. I got to do about twenty minutes of my presentation. I was never called back until the day Mr. Littleton called to say the County was going with Motorola.
Potter went on to say that most counties engage a consultant to assure that the proper system is designed, and that two to three months is spent in fine tuning the proposal by the vendor. We usually give a rough estimate for budget purposes, then we work with the purchasing agency to make sure we get the thing right. These are major purchases and they need to be handled carefully. That was the process we were anticipating when we were informed about the Countys decision.
Potter, when asked for a ball park figure for his companys proposal, said he was asked by Littleton to give an apples to apples comparison with the four site system that Motorola had proposed. My price was approximately $7.9 million, compared to their price of $8.5 million. The big difference is when we throw the switch on our system in eighteen months, the county owns it. Completely. No fees, no rentals on radios, no millions in service fees. We know we are more than competitive in our field. I just want the chance to compete for the business. Thats all were asking, is to follow an appropriate bid process and give us a chance to compete.
County ordinance requires a competitive bid process for all purchases over $10,000. Section 2-631 states All public purchases shall be made in a manner which provides for the greatest economy for the taxpayer, the fairest selection of vendor, and the prevention of conflict of interest.
Section 2-632 establishes a review panel consisting of seven members, one from each Council District. This panel is authorized to review formal protests of decisions arising from the solicitation and awarding of contracts.
By Stan Welch
A proposed countywide two cents hospitality tax moved closer to reality last week when the Anderson County Municipal Association gave the measure its unanimous support at their monthly meeting.
The proposal calls for 90% or more, of the tax to be dedicated to the development of a county wide recreation system. The remainder would go to the Anderson Convention and visitors Center to promote sports tournaments and attract visitors to those events. Currently, either municipalities, such as Anderson and Honea Path, provide such services, often for children who do not live in those municipalities; or they are provided by recreational providers, such as the Wren Youth Association.
The hospitality tax was one of three options considered by the Imagine Anderson recreation implementation board. Imagine Anderson is a public study effort conducted last year to determine the direction in which Anderson Countys citizens want to see it move. There were more than 100 projects identified under seven general areas of action. Recreation was one of those areas.
The three funding options, according to board member Rusty Burns, included a dedicated mil in the annual county budget, which would generate approximately $600,000 annually. A second option was to establish a special purpose district, a choice deemed unworkable since the entire county would be involved. The third option was the hospitality tax, which several municipalities already use as their primary funding source for recreational programs.
According to Burns, and convention bureau director Glenn Brill, the tax, which would affect all the unincorporated areas of Anderson County, would generate almost $3 million a year. That is based only on restaurant sales, and does not include taxes on prepared foods sold at convenience stores or in the deli departments of supermarkets. Said Burns, I think we could approach $4 million annually.
Joe Drennon, director of the Anderson YMCA, is on the board and he spoke of the potential for the proposal. He said the board had identified sixteen different recreation providers. Recreation is a little compartmentalized in Anderson County. We all try to do what we can and we all struggle with facilities and funding. Were all out there kind of on our own. There is a better way to fund our recreation.
Brill agreed and added some startling statistics to the discussion. He said that twenty four per cent of the countys population, or 43,000 people, are under the age of 18. Fifteen per cent, or 27,000 people, have special needs, while fourteen per cent, or twenty five thousand, are over the age of sixty-five.
Right now, the towns in Anderson County are subsidizing recreation for everyone in the county. That isnt fair and it isnt efficient. Recreational issues are quality of life issues, and they reflect in economic development efforts as well. There is more to this than just building ball fields, said Brill.
In towns that already have the hospitality tax, they would fund 25% of any projects, while the county hospitality tax would fund the remainder. In areas without an existing hospitality tax, the county tax would fund the projects entirely.
Burns reminded many of those in the room that their towns already have passed the same tax within their limits. All the towns that currently have the tax receive tens of thousands of dollars annually from them.
You all know that this tax works and that it is paid in significant amounts by travelers and visitors. Youve already approved it for your towns. Now we need to move to the next level and develop countywide facilities and programs.
Following some discussion, the Associations members gave unanimous approval to a resolution supporting the tax. The proposal will be brought before the County Council at the November 20th meeting, with a public hearing scheduled for the December 4th meeting of the Council.
The Association, made up of representatives of the various towns in the County, also expressed support for the one cent sales tax currently being considered by the county council. The members were asked to provide names of the two nominees which the Town of Anderson will make, in addition to their own representative on the sales tax commission. Those names are to be submitted to the Anderson City Council at the Oct. 22nd meeting and to the County Council at their next meeting after that date.
A series of forgeries came to light last week in The Journal readership area. Charles Campbell, of Pelzer, learned that a series of nine checks were forged on his account during August and September, totaling $822. In Pelzer, Susan Long, of Williamston, found that two checks had been forged and presented at two stores, totaling $105. In that case, a Brian Long , described as WM, 30, 67", 275 pounds, brn/blue presented both those checks for cash or goods, according to the police report. In Piedmont, an unknown subject presented a check drawn on an Easley Transmission Service account at the Cornerstone Bank for $1658.80, which the bank cashed.
Anderson County Sheriffs Deputies also investigated the following incidents:
Oct. 10 J.J. Jacobs and K.W. Pearson responded to 150 Whites Dr. where Mark Reid reported that he had seen what he believed to be a stolen motorcycle at his cousins house. The motorcycles ignition had been punched and the VINs removed from two locations. A search found that the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardons Services held an active warrant for Richard Leota Reid, WM, 37. He was arrested by the deputies.
Oct. 10 C. Whitfield responded to the SavWay convenience store at 110 Hwy. 20 where store clerk Candace Reese said that a burgundy mini-van had driven off without paying for $64 worth of gas. The van had SC tag #834-UTL, which is assigned to a 1993 Infiniti registered in Florence, SC.
Oct. 11 B.K. Baxter responded to 332 Brentwood Dr. where George Osborne reported the theft of a 6 X 12 enclosed trailer valued at $3200.
Oct. 10 B.K. Baxter responded to 205 Piedmont Rd. where John Posey reported that someone had broken into his home and stolen various items valued at approximately $400.
Oct. 10- T.B. Dugan was dispatched to 118 Boozer Rd. where Doug Sprayberry told him that someone had broken in his front door and stolen approximately $10,500 worth of jewelry, including five Rolex watches, and gold coins. Several fingerprints were collected from inside the house.
Oct. 11 A trucker from Indiana reported to the ACSO that while he was driving north on I-85 someone threw a large rock over the side of the overpass at Elrod Rd. The rock broke the trucks windshield. No injuries occurred.
Oct. 11 Another over the road trucker, from Charlotte, reported that someone threw a rock off the overpass at I-85 and mile marker 36. His windshield was broken at an estimated cost of $300. No injuries occurred.
Oct. 12 T.J. Burgess responded to Wren High school where he found a juvenile female foaming at the mouth and acting very weird. He determined that she had taken four pills which were given to her by a classmate. The classmate, also a juvenile, told the officer that he had brought her some depression medication after she asked him to. They went to his home and the pills were identified as Vyvanse, a schedule two controlled substance. He was arrested and taken to DJJ for distribution of a controlled substance.
Oct. 12 M. Voigt was dispatched to 95 Jefferson Court where John Bowlus reported the theft of cash from a wallet left in his car and the theft of a seven hundred dollar Trek mountain bike. The bike a Trek 200 Navigator was dark blue.
Oct. 12 W. E. Gregory responded to 303 Timber Rd. where he received a report from Raymond Moore Jr. that someone had stolen two Husqvarna chain saws and a two ton come along with a total value of $2040.
Oct. 12 K.W. Pearson was on Patrol on River Road near Hwy. 153 when he saw a car fail to yield, almost causing an accident. He stopped the car and noticed a strong smell of marijuana. Reports state he obtained permission to search the driver and found a bag of marijuana. Cedric Fuller, BM, 25, of Greenville, was arrested for simple possession of marijuana and transported to the ACDC.
Oct. 13 T.L. Chapman responded to 132 Mountain Lake Rd. where he received a report from Amy Trull that someone had stolen a black 7 X 14 double axle trailer from her. The trailer was valued at $2500.
Oct. 10 K.D. Pigman responded to the area of Thomas St. and Hilltop Circle, where Johnny Pine reported that a car load of young white males had driven past him screaming and yelling at him. When he stepped behind the vehicle to see the tag number, the driver reversed and drove towards him at a high rate of speed.
Oct. 14 Less than two weeks after being arrested for violating a restraining order, Keith Lusk, WM, 28, 511", 160 pounds, was again reported for the same offense. Upon arriving at the incident location, Deputy J.T. Foster saw Lusk jump the fence and flee into the woods. He was informed by dispatch that Lusk was wanted on three different warrants. Anissa Thompson, who lives at the location, said Lusk had been beating on her back door before the deputy arrived. She produced the restraining order from the court.
Oct. 9 T.W. Newman and M. Voigt responded to 1060 Dean Springs circle where Annette Smith reported that someone had stolen four buckets of scrap copper from her property. They had also attempted to enter the home. The copper was valued at $400.
Oct. 13 D.L. Barton responded to 520 Big Creek Rd. in response to a report of a suspicious vehicle. Thomas Perkins reported finding a vehicle on his property. He had seen it once before but thought it belonged to a hunter. The second day, he checked and found it had been broken into and the ignition punched. The vehicle was stolen from Gray Court, SC and the owner came to retrieve it.
Oct. 14 A teenager accidentally shot himself while walking in the woods with a shotgun dangling back over his shoulder. M.J. Burns was dispatched to Fant Rd. where Mark Edlein reported that while in his yard, he heard someone screaming from the woods nearby. He found the teenager, whose name was withheld, shot in the left heel. He had been carrying a twenty gauge shotgun over his shoulder, pointed down, with his finger on the trigger. His uncle, Larry Fant, said the boy wasnt supposed to have the gun.
Oct. 14 M. Voigt responded to the Jockey Lot where Shadi Shukri of N&R Electronics reported that a man had attempted to shoplift a Boss Audio system and DVD/MP3/CD player with a 7" monitor valued at $500. Shukris did not press charges but the man was placed on trespass notice.
During their second meeting this month, Williamston Town Council unanimously approved first reading on an ordinance establishing a job description for an Administrator, postponed a pay raise for town employees and discussed the future of the towns cannon. They also began work on revision of the towns policy and procedures manual.
During public comments, Council amended the agenda to allow a vote on a request by Willie Wright to have a traffic light installed at the intersection of Major Rd. and Hamilton St. at Palmetto Middle and High School. Council unanimously agreed to ask the SCDOT to do a traffic study to determine if the intersection warrants a light.
Council unanimously agreed on the job description for the administrator they hope to hire. They also agreed to advertise the position. Mayor Phillip Clardy said that he wants council to consider stating job qualifications for the position.
A motion by Mayor Clardy to table discussion on the employee raise failed with a 2-2 vote with Clardy and Councilman David Harvell voting to table and Councilmen Marion Middleton, Jr. and Carthel Crout voting to leave it on the agenda. Councilman Otis Scott was absent due to a health problem.
Clardy said he wanted to table the discussion until Councilman Scott was present. Crout said the town employees have waited since July for the council to make a decision.
After some discussion, Council unanimously agreed to approve first reading on a 3.4 percent across the board pay raise for town employees. The raise does not include council or mayor.
Councilman Middleton expressed some concern that council did not have numbers they needed from the accountant to make the decision. Clardy stated that the accountant wanted another week to get figures and had expressed concerns about which accounts funding for the raise will come from.
Clardy also expressed concerns about the money being spent from the towns contingency funds.
Citing that town employees had no raise in the last three years, Clardy then made a motion for council to consider a 5 percent increase for town employees. The motion died for lack of a second.
There was then considerable discussion about what to do with the towns historic civil war cannon.
Councilman Middleton made a motion recommending the town approve an agreement proposed by Anderson County in which the county would refurbish the cannon, provide a caisson and put it on display in the Anderson County museum for a period of five years.
The town would retain ownership and it would be included in a display featuring Williamston, he said.
Councilman Harvell and Mayor Clardy both said that they had comments from citizens who wanted the cannon to remain in Williamston. Most people want it to stay in town, Harvell said.
Clardy said the cannon remains categorized as evidence and will be kept at the Williamston Police Department until the Adjutant General makes a decision. The cannon was returned to the town defaced and in poor condition after town officials began looking for it. The cannon had been in the care of the local S. C. National Guard Unit, and was presumed to be at the Williamston armory at the time.
Councilman Crout said he would like to see the cannon remain in Williamston but agreed that the county proposal will get it refurbished. Middleton said the agreement will also give the town time to find a place for it.
After some discussion about whether or not the caisson provided by the County would be considered a part of the cannon when it was returned to the town, Middleton withdrew his motion in support of the County proposal to clear the matter up.
Mayor Clardy then made a motion to keep the cannon in Williamston and use funds from the museum grant to refurbish the cannon and provide a caisson. Clardy said there is $34,720 remaining in the fund.
We have loaned it once and learned a lesson, he said.
Councilman Harvell provided a second but the motion died with a 2-2 vote.
Councilman Crout made a motion to reduce the sanitation fee from the present $10 to $7.
Clardy said he had reservations about reducing the fee prior to Jan. 1. I think it is premature, he said.
Councilmen Crout and Middleton both stated that they felt town citizens should get a break on the fee.
Crout said he felt the towns citizens had suffered from the higher fee that was instated while the towns finances were being reestablished. He said there was money in the account and that even with the fee cut to $7, the town will receive enough money to meet their needs.
Middleton said cutting the fee in half, would give them some relief. Middleton said the town had made enough cuts last year to avoid a 20 mill increase and cut spending by $1 million.
We can cut it and give everybody a break, he said.
The motion died for lack of a majority with a 2-2 vote.
Council unanimously agreed to a request to allow renaming of a street located near Hillcrest Baptist Church. A letter will be sent from the Town to Anderson County authorizing the change.
Council unanimously agreed to allow up to $3,500 to pay for and to take bids on replacing mercury thermostats in the Municipal Building.
Mayor Clardy said that replacing with digital thermostats will save energy. Councilman Middleton asked that an energy survey also be done on the building to see if anything else could be done.
Council agreed to review fees being charged for renting rooms in the Municipal Center.
Council unanimously agreed to seek an estimate on removing a block structure on Roberts Blvd. which officials said is a nuisance and creating safety concerns.
Council unanimously agreed to a request by Councilman Crout to allow two signs be erected designating the town as a Strong Community.
Council also agreed to take bids on the towns 1995 International packer.
Council then went into executive session to discuss a personnel issue with the towns labor attorney and contract issue with Goldie and Associates involving a water and lease issue.
Upon returning to open session, council unanimously agreed to submit a copy of policy guide lines offered by the State Municipal Association, Appalachian Council of Governments (ACOG) and the towns current policy and procedure manual for review. The McNair law firm will review the policy and make recommendations.
Following the meeting, Councilman Crout said, There are things I think need to be incorporated into our new policy.
He said he would like to see the town manual include specific policies regarding the use of cell phones, internet and computers, expenditures of town money and use of town hall.
Though the Piedmont Footbridge Festival will not be held this year, there will be an open exhibit of Piedmont history from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 20.
Always one of the popular events of the festival, the Piedmont History Collection will be on display in the Rowell Club Room of the Piedmont Community Building, located downtown on Main St. in Piedmont.
In the past, many Piedmont residents have attended the Festival to celebrate and review the storied history of the textile town. Exhibits on display will cover the history of Piedmont from the time of the Big Shoals of the Saluda and Mr. Garrisons Grist Mill to Mr. Hammetts Cotton Mill, and on through present day.
Among the items to be displayed are a part of the first shaft of the main water wheel which powered the machinery of the mill built in 1876. Rowell, who came to Piedmont from Massachusetts in 1877, left many interesting articles and copies of the Piedmont Bridge which he edited in the early 20s. Many copies of the newspaper and other items from his collection will be on display.
Pictures and articles on Piedmonts history and featuring the sporting teams will be on display. Several of the oversize pictures of entire shifts of the mill are also available. The earliest being from 1922, showing many present day residents ancestors
A great number of pictures of the building of the Estes Plant and their employees during their 40 years in business will be available. Many people will see friends or relatives that they recognize. Several photos of employees and their children which were taken at the annual Christmas party need identifying, organizers said.
Piedmont High School, an important part of the towns history, will be well represented with all their annuals and most copies of the school newspaper being on display.
More than 70 people visited the Community Building last year for the history display. Plans are being made for the Game Room, adjacent to the Rowell Room, to be made into a Museum to permanently display many of these artifacts.
By Stan Welch
The Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners met Monday night. Four of the five commissioners were present. Marsha Rogers, who was not, missed the chance to take part in the restructuring of the recreation department which she has overseen for the last few years.
Following a report by ad hoc recreation committee chairman Bobby Stover, the council voted unanimously to assign to Johnny Cantrell the duties of accepting reservations for the ball field as well as for the community building.
The committee also recommended, and the commission agreed, that Tommy Rogers, Commissioner Rogers husband, be instructed to report to Mr. Cantrell. Up till now, he has reported directly to Commissioner Rogers, said Stover. Thats not a good situation. He needs to be working under Chief Wallace, not one of the commissioners, no matter who it is.
Rogers will also coordinate with Cantrell on when the lights at the ball fields will be turned on and off. All the committees recommendations were unanimously approved.
Stover also recommended that the rates charged for the use of the fields and the community building be reviewed, and compared with those charged by nearby entities, such as Pelzer and Anderson County. The last time we increased the rates was in 1995. We need to at least review them and see if we are way behind or even ahead of the others.
Stover, who ran on a campaign promise not to accept any pay for his service, returning it to the fire department instead, also raised the issue of commissioners being paid for months in which they miss the meeting of the commission.
I have not taken any money from the fire department for my work on this commission. I think for a commissioner to miss a meeting and get paid anyway is wrong. I move that we do not get paid when we miss meetings.
Commissioner Rogers also was absent from last months meeting, as was Commissioner Stover.
Commissioner Frankie Garrett said he could understand someone being sick or having an emergency. But when a commissioner chooses to attend a soccer game or something like that, instead of coming to the meeting, I do have a problem with that.
Commissioner Al McAbee reminded the commission that they are paid for more than just attending meetings. We are paid to serve on this commission. That can include coming up here to sign checks or answering citizens calls or any of a hundred different things. We receive this money for more than just being at meetings.
Chairman Ed Poore reiterated the fact that the money received by the commissioners is a per diem expense payment, and not a salary or wage. The public needs to understand that difference, said Poore before casting the tying vote that effectively killed Stovers motion concerning payment for meetings not attended.
The Commission also agreed that they are willing to help the Bonnes Amie Club install their Christmas lights, but on an unofficial basis.
We simply dont have the statutory authority as a public service commission to undertake that task. But this group does a great deal of good for our town and we can and will help in any way we can, within the limits of our legal authority, Poore said.
Organizers are preparing for Boo In The Park on Saturday, October 27 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event will be for children ages 12 and under with entertainment on the Amphitheater stage by the Williamston Church of God Clown Ministry, New Prospect Church Praise & Dance Team, and Palmetto High School Dancers. There will also be a Halloween costume contest and a Jack OLantern Contest. Pumpkins for the Jack OLantern Contest must be pre-carved, organizers said.
From 8 p.m. to 11p.m. there will be a dance for teens on the tennis court for ages 13-18, with a DJ from Life of the Party providing music. Admittance fee is $3 per single and $5 per couple.
Spook rides will be offered on the Williamston Fire Dept Antique Fire Engine from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
A variety of games will be provided and candy will be given out to children ages 12 and under
Organizers and sponsors of the event include members of Strong Communities, Palmetto High School Student Council, Williamston First Baptist Church, New Prospect Baptist Church, Williamston Springwater Committee, the South Carolina State Guard and the Williamston Police Department, the Williamston Area Historic Commission (WAHC) and Hillcrest Baptist Church.
The event will be held in Mineral Spring Park, which will be closed to vehicle traffic from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for security purposes.
Parking will be at the rear of the Williamston Municipal Center and in the lot beside McDonalds. Security will be provided by the South Carolina State Guard and the Williamston Police Dept.
For more info call co-organizers Dianne Lollis at 847-5743, Ellen Harvell at 847-5588 or Barbara Davis at 847-4357. Rain date will be Tuesday, Oct 30th.
The Williamston Police Department responded to an armed robbery within blocks of their headquarters last week.
An unknown black male, described as approximately six feet tall and thin, accosted Brandy Priore, a white female, 25 years old, who was walking with her three year old son towards the park tunnel.
As they were walking through the tunnel, the suspect, described as having a short hair style and a deep voice, stopped them and asked her for her money. She said she had none and he slapped her twice on the right side of the head. He then produced a small handgun and placed it to her face. She offered him the money in her pocket and he took her purse as well, fleeing towards the Veterans Park.
Ptl. J. Digirolamo and Sgt. M.D. Creamer responded to the Fast Fuel convenience store where the victim went to call the police. Chief David Baker also responded and he and Sgt. Creamer began a search for the suspect, while Ptl. Digirolamo interviewed the victim.
With influenza season approaching, South Carolinians and especially those with a higher risk for flu-related complications along with those who live with or care for people at high risk are encouraged to get their flu vaccinations.
The best way to reduce the effects of the flu virus is to take the flu vaccine, said Jerry Gibson, M.D., director of DHECs Bureau of Disease Control. The vaccine provides immunity not only to the person who receives it, but also to the community at large when more people are protected. We particularly want to urge people who are at the greatest risk from flu, or those who care for them, to make vaccination a priority.
Dr. Gibson said the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that a significant amount of influenza vaccine should be available in physicians offices and communities to allow vaccinations to begin in most counties.
DHECs public health regions across the state are offering flu shot clinics during October.
Region 1 serves, Abbeville, Anderson, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Oconee and Saluda counties.
Schedules are Thursday, Oct. 18 - First Baptist Church, Main Street, Williamston, 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.; Shaver Recreation Complex, 698 West South 4th Street, Seneca, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m; Edgefield Town Gym, Church Street, Edgefield, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 19 - Honea Path Community Center (Old Watkins Elementary), South Main Street, 9 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 22 - First Baptist Church, 403 East Main Street, Walhalla, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.; Pendleton Dog House, East Queen Street, Pendleton, 1 p.m.- 4 p.m.; Town Hall, 8 Mill Street, Ware Shoals, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 30, Iva Civic Center, 303 Jackson Road, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Information about DHEC clinics near you will be regularly updated on the DHEC Web site at http://www.scdhec.gov/flu.
DHEC is only one of many flu shot providers. Check to see if your medical practitioner is offering flu shots as well.
Prices for the shots vary, however at DHEC clinics, there is a $25 charge for the vaccination, which Medicare and Medicaid will cover for those who are eligible. Medicare Advantage enrollees should contact their plans to learn whether a certain provider needs to provide the flu shot.
Information about who should get a flu vaccination is on the Web, and available from your doctor or any of DHECs 46 county public health departments. Flu vaccination information, clinic times and locations are at http://www.scdhec.gov/flu or call DHECs Immunization Division at (803) 898-0460 (toll free 1-800-277-4687).
For a comprehensive listing of clinics across the Carolinas including DHEC and non-DHEC clinics check the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellences Flu Clinic Finder at www.thecarolinascenter.org/fcf or the American Lung Association at www.lungusa.org.
The Piedmont Christmas Parade will be held Saturday, December 8 at 11 a.m.
The parade will be sponsored again this year by the Bonnes Amies club and will have the theme of Season of Light.
Organizers invite individuals, families, churches, schools, organizations and businesses to begin planning an entry now.
Entry forms are available at the Piedmont Fire Department or can be mailed out by contacting Maxie Freeman at 864-244-3435.
The Bonnes Amies will also sponsor the Miss/Master Christmas contest for children up to 6 years old with a boy and girl winner in each category.
Categories are birth to 2 years; 2 to 4 years; and 4 to 6 years.
Winners will be invited to ride in the parade.
Votes will be a penny per vote. Parents are asked to get their childs entry forms in early and get the jars out as soon as possible.
For more information or application forms, contact Paige Crawford, Chairman at 864-244-3435 or Maxie Freeman at 864-845-6372. Applications are also available at the Piedmont Fire Department.
The Piercetown Fire Department, with help from Cub Scout Den 9, is celebrating Deeds of Pride month. The Piercetown community is being challenged to pick up trash along Highway 81 and in area neighborhoods on Saturday, October 27.
Volunteers are asked to meet at the Piercetown Fire Department at 9 a.m. to receive trash bags, litter sticks, vests, gloves and motivation to litter done!
The clean-up will end at 11 a.m. at the fire department with door prizes and a photo of all participants along with the bags of trash collected. For more details contact Kelly Jo Barnwell at 261-8948.
By Stan Welch
For the third time in just a couple of months, there appears on the Anderson County Council agenda an item concerning domestic terrorism in this county.
As a newsman, it warms the cockles of my heart each time I see this mentioned on an official agenda of the county government. Is it because I feel safer knowing that the mighty forces available to Anderson County are aware of and arrayed against this threat? No, I wouldnt say that.
Is it because this weeks speaker on the subject has absolutely no credentials to speak on this subject, except perhaps for his self-proclaimed membership in the League of The South, which, while certainly no al-Qaeda, has called for the overthrow of the federal government? No, I wouldnt say that either.
Is it because, as one who routinely endures hours and hours of evidence that perhaps our chosen forms of government dont quite come up to the hype we spew about them, its always nice to find irrefutable proof of my suspicions? Now, were getting warm.
Folks, its time for this to stop.
In recent weeks we have seen a seated member of County Council, for reasons known only to him and his maker, (and you can take that anyway you want to) decided to, not once but twice, attack a watchdog organization that he considers illegitimate, apparently because they dont charge dues.
Thats right. An elected official, whom most Americans expect to take the heat along with the paycheck, attacked a group of citizens, branding them terrorists. This groups crime? As best I can tell, its giving him a hard time for what they perceive as his betrayal of the promises he made to them when seeking election. Name calling is a close second.
Councilman Thompsons first designation of the group as terrorists came during a presentation which was apparently spurred by the reception of letters by Mr. Thompson from someone, whose identity remains unknown, who wanted the Council members to understand that sodomy is commonly practiced in our prisons. He also wanted them to know that he or she anticipated the members incarceration at some future date as a result of their past performance as elected officials.
These letters were crude; they were stupid and uncalled for. Public officials should have to take the heat, even if they dont get a paycheck. But they shouldnt have to take that kind of behavior.
Still, the behavior, while boorish and indefensible, was nowhere near terrorism, and Councilman Thompson knows it. His tortured efforts to use Websters dictionary and the Patriot Act to cobble together some credible link of those letters to an act of terror were laughable the first time.
The reaction to his second effort to do the same thing was somewhat less humorous, since it was followed by a majority vote to refuse an official rebuttal by the current head of the organization attacked. Thompsons claim that his objection to Dan Harvell speaking as the representative of the taxpayers association was not intended to inhibit free speech only added to his growing legend.
Now, on this weeks agenda, Charles Crowe, a founder of that taxpayers association, has been given fifteen minutes to rebut the charges made by Thompson. Later on the agenda, Brooks Brown IV, a constant speaker at each meeting of the Council, has been given five minutes to speak once again on the issue of terrorism.
Folks, can we please let these two men have their turn and then stop this silliness? The guy who whips up my slurpee at the Hot Spot, Quick Stop, Hickory Point, Out of Joint, whatever store you want to name, is a bigger terror threat than the taxpayers association or any other public group. And hes no threat!
Did I miss something? Did al-Qaeda decide the way to bring us to our knees is to blow up the paper mache fish on downtown Andersons sidewalks? Can we expect a nerve gas attack from commandeered hot air balloons sometime in the future?
Could the Oconee nuclear plant be a target? Yes it could. Is Duke Power watching out for that? I believe so. Is the plant in Anderson County? No, it is not. Are any Oconee County Council members flipping out about it? At least not in public.
Mr. Crowe, I know that you are deeply committed to your cause and proud of your organization. You deserve the right to publicly defend it this once. But as you and your members work hard to obtain signatures on petitions to force a full audit and to consider a change in the countys form of government, believe in the process you are following. You have waited all these years surely you can wait until next November.
Mr. Brown, and Mr. Thompson, stop this foolishness. You only feed the flames those odd political flames that produce only heat and not light.
This is a country that demands its leaders to stand and take the heat. It considers a willingness to do that to be both necessary and noble. There is no terror intended by public political discourse. Terrorism grows in the dark, and dies in the light.
Im sure you all consider yourselves the righteous parties in this matter.
Seems to me you are all wrong, regardless of which side you choose. Paranoia as politics simply doesnt work. The people of Anderson County need to figure that out . . . quick.